Fitness Class Review: Sculpt Studio in Bethesda

The months-old studio is the first in Bethesda to offer the muscle-toning Lagree Fitness Method.

I’ve imagined many things to get me through particularly tough workouts. Rather than tackling a climb during an indoor-cycling class, I’m pedaling my way up the Rocky Mountains. Jabbing and hooking my way through a kickboxing routine, I’m suddenly a prize-winning boxer.

At Sculpt Studio in Bethesda, my daydreams went in a different direction. I was stretched in a plank position on the patented Megaformer machine, straining my core to maintain the hybrid plank/crunch we were currently executing. As I thought about dropping my knee for a rest, I imagined the sliding carriage I was dragging with my feet snapping closed and my leg getting tangled in the spring loads of the machine below me. Suddenly I felt a lot more motivated to stay in position.

Sculpt Studio, which opened in January, is the first studio in Bethesda to offer the popular Lagree Fitness Method. Instructor Mary Farber helps clients through intense, core-burning workouts on the Megaformer machine, whether it’s during the Intro Sculpt class or a Mega Mommas session, geared toward new and expectant mothers. The Bethesda studio holds ten machines, meaning Faber has room to focus on each participant during her classes, offering adjustments and help with the machines to those who need it.

As this was my first time participating in a Megaformer workout, help was definitely needed for some of the more complex exercises. Targeting every muscle group from shoulder to quad, Farber incorporated a number of standard exercises (squats, glute kickbacks, side planks) into the class, all using the added resistance the Megaformer provides with its spring-loaded sliding carriage.

That resistance fatigued many of my muscles halfway through the class (cue that “motivation” fantasy), which cofounder Danielle Tate says helps promote increased calorie burn and muscle tone. The workout is designed to keep the heart rate high with short breaks and back-to-back action, the goal being to stay in the fat-burning zone the whole time.

The strategy means the method lends itself well to multiple sessions a week. I could see how some of the harder moves would become more approachable after a few classes strengthening lesser-used muscle groups. Days after the workout, my core was still tender, from my lower abs all the way to my ribs. But the mantra Farber shared seemed true for the regulars executing the more difficult moves next to me in class: “It doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger.”

Sculpt Studio. 4900 Auburn Ave., Bethesda; 240-600-0730. First class is $20.